"But what do you want me to write about?", was my question when initially
charged with the task of writing this piece. "A student's eye view of the
class", came the reply. "Hmm...", was my response. Where on earth do I
start? I suppose the beginning is as good as any...
Right, so Kung Fu then - White Crane/Tiger Crane style to be more precise.
Tigers? Cranes? Sounds all a bit
old-Chinese-films-with-poorly-dubbed-over-English, huh? Well, from the
conflicting reports I can gather it has something to do with a monk, a crane
(unsurprisingly) and some animal or other trying to attack the crane - which
the bird manages to fend off. Hence the technique.
But never mind about that. While the history is important, it isn't the be
all and end all of everything. So why did I choose this style? Well, I was
already "doing" karate, but was fast becoming disillusioned with its
monotony. "What was I achieving", I'd asked myself. Thus, a bit of poking
and prodding and a quick scour of the Internet found me Dennis Ngo (head
honcho) and Co. An e-mail here and there and I was off to my first class...
So what can you expect? Well, the highlights of my first lesson follow: "You
want me to lift my leg up where?!" Ooo, my knuckles hurt..." "Water... I...
Need... Water". Not very inspiring to anyone wanting start, huh? But did I
enjoy it? Definitely. And that was six months ago...
To strip it all right back to bone, it's basically 20 to 40 of you in a hall
- wooden floor and mirrors along the walls - doing some Kung Fu. "So, why do
I want to come? My mate's brother has a black belt and can teach us to be
Jacky Chan ninjas," may be the reply. Well, good for you. Go and become
"ninjas". It all comes down to what YOU want to get from the sessions.
The class doesn't pour scorn amateurs - even if, like me, their arms flail
around it a disorganised, haphazard way. It's all part of the learning
process. Hey, everyone was a beginner at one point (maybe even Dennis). And
without any snooty "attitude".
The fact of the matter is you can skive. You can give it 70%. You can
generally not try, just like anything else, but at the end of the day - and
as your mother always said - "it's you who loses out". If you want to do
kung fu then do it. If you don't... well, then don't. It's as Yoda said in
The Empire Strikes Back (uh oh - he's quoting Star Wars!): "Do, or do not.
There is no try".
And to keep this piece on a firmly non-serious footing, I'd also like to
mention my plans to make it compulsory to sing "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl
Douglas before and after each class. Alas, it has yet to gain the support I
had hoped for...